Anger is a powerful and universal emotion that everyone, from a baby to an older adult, experiences. However, when anger takes hold, it can cloud judgment, fuel negative thoughts, and escalate stress levels. It can have far-reaching effects on a person’s mind and body. This article will explore the impact of anger on a person and how to manage this intense emotion to promote overall well-being.
What are the causes of anger?
Anger is the natural response to a perceived threat or attack, and Ekman calls anger the face of aggression or violence . There are many causes of anger; however, they all have a common underlying theme of something interfering with how one wishes things to be or what a person intends to do . This was also highlighted by Dollard and Miller, who gave one of the most famous theories of anger called the Frustration-Aggression hypothesis. According to them, aggressive behavior stems from frustration or interruption in goal-directed behavior .
In the current scenario, authors have identified many other causes of anger. According to one analysis, there can be internal and external sources of irritation  .
Internal Sources of Anger
External Sources of Anger
Internal sources originate from how a person interacts with the environment. This can include looking at the world emotionally, having a poor ability to tolerate frustration, having unreasonable expectations, and experiencing stress or other mental health issues. External sources include any attack on a person, their beliefs, and their belongings; a threat to their basic needs like food or love and environmental stress (such as a natural disaster or high-pressure work environment).
What are the types of anger?
Anger has many forms. Authors like Plutchik see anger as a continuum that starts from lower-intensity emotions like annoyance and goes up to high-intensity emotions like rage . Apart from intensity, there are different types of anger depending on the situation. Some common types of anger include  .
- Passive Anger: Passive anger involves expressing anger indirectly or passively rather than confronting the source of the anger directly. Sarcasm and silent treatment are some examples.
- Assertive Anger: This involves expressing anger healthily and using words in a strong but calm disposition for confrontation with someone who is the source of irritation.
- Aggressive anger: This involves expressing outwardly through verbal or physical aggression.
- Chronic Anger: This type of anger refers to a persistent, long-lasting pattern that becomes an individual’s predominant emotional state. There is also a general sense of resentment for others and the world.
- Self-Directed Anger: This involves directing anger inward, resulting in self-destructive behaviors or self-harm.
- Overwhelmed Anger: This occurs when individuals feel emotionally overwhelmed, leading to anger to cope with or release pent-up emotions.
- Judgemental Anger: This occurs from a space of rigid beliefs, morals, and expectations. Often associated with a sense of injustice to self or others, individuals feel justified in their anger as they believe they are standing up for what is right.
What are the effects of anger on Your Mind and Body?
There are both short-term and long-term effects of anger on the mind and body of an individual.
Short-Term Effect of Anger
- Changes in Body: When a person becomes angry, their body goes into heightened arousal. This can lead to increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, tensed muscles, and a surge of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline .
- Changes in Mind: Anger can influence cognitive functioning and impair rational thinking. When angry, individuals may experience difficulty concentrating, have a narrower focus of attention, poor judgment, and poor decision-making .
Long-Term Effects of Anger
- Increased risk of chronic diseases: Anger is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. It can also weaken the immune system and impair well-being .
- Digestive issues: Anger disrupts the delicate balance of the digestive system, leading to stomach aches, indigestion, and acid reflux .
- Mental health issues: Chronic or uncontrolled anger is a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse .
- Negative Effects on Relationships: Frequent displays of anger or aggressive behavior may lead to conflicts, breakdowns in communication, and damaged trust in relationships .
Managing anger effectively is crucial for maintaining both mental and physical health. One can use simple techniques to manage and control anger.
Seven Easy Tips to manage your anger
Anyone can learn to manage anger easily with practice and self-awareness. Following are some tips for anger management    :
- Recognize Triggers: Spending some time identifying what triggers emotional responses can be helpful to predict when anger is likely and even avoid those situations.
- Control it before it takes over: Anger develops in stages. According to the famous Medol model, anger begins as annoyance and increases to rage in many situations. Controlling and listening to anger in earlier stages can prevent outbursts.
- Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Regularly employing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that bring joy and calmness can reduce anger and stress. Further, when angry, individuals can try taking deep breaths to come to a state of relaxation.
- Exercise: Physical activity releases tension and boosts mood, aiding in anger management, and going for a workout when angry can quickly reduce the energy of anger and make a person calmer.
- Laugh, Distract, and take time out: Changing one’s environment, finding something funny, and taking time out can help control anger.
- Learn Assertive Communication: It is best to express what one feels instead of bottling it up. Learning techniques like “I statements” and assertive communication can help describe what bothers a person.
- Consult a therapist: Some individuals have explosive anger, which gets out of control. In these situations, one can consult a professional to learn why they feel angry and how to control it.
Anger management is a crucial skill. Learning how to manage anger can reduce the harmful long-term and short-term effects on a person.
The impact of anger on both the mind and body is significant and far-reaching. Physiologically, anger triggers a fight-or-flight response, leading to increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and the release of stress hormones. Mentally, anger can impair cognitive function, strain relationships, and negatively impact emotional well-being.
If you are experiencing anger issues, contact the experts on the United We Care Platform. At United We Care’s team of wellness and mental health experts will guide you with the best methods for self-discovery and well-being.
- P. Ekman, “Chapter 6: Anger,” in Emotions revealed: Understanding faces and feelings, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2012
- J. Breuer and M. Elson, “Frustration-aggression theory,” The Wiley Handbook of Violence and Aggression, pp. 1–12, 2017. doi:10.1002/9781119057574.whbva040
- The effects of anger on the brain and body – national forum, http://www.nationalforum.com/Electronic%20Journal%20Volumes/Hendricks,%20LaVelle%20The%20Effects%20of%20Anger%20on%20the%20Brain%20and%20Body%20NFJCA%20V2%20N1%202013.pdf (accessed May 19, 2023).
- T. Loo, What causes anger? – ezinearticles.com, https://ezinearticles.com/?What-Causes-Anger?&id=58598 (accessed May 19, 2023).
- Six SecondsSix Seconds supports people to create positive change – everywhere… all the time. Founded in 1997, “Plutchik’s wheel of emotions: Feelings wheel,” Six Seconds, https://www.6seconds.org/2022/03/13/plutchik-wheel-emotions/ (accessed May 10, 2023)
- “10 types of anger: What’s your anger style?” Life Supports Counselling, https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/resources/blogs/10-types-of-anger-what-s-your-anger-style/ (accessed May 19, 2023).
- T. Ohwovoriole, “How to manage your anger,” Verywell Mind, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-anger-5120208 (accessed May 19, 2023).
- E. L. Barrett, K. L. Mills, and M. Teesson, “Mental health correlates of anger in the general population: Findings from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing,” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 47, no. 5, pp. 470–476, 2013. doi:10.1177/0004867413476752
- “The Medol Model Anger Continuum,” Anger Alternatives, https://www.anger.org/the-medol-model/the-medol-model-anger-continuum (accessed May 19, 2023).
- “Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper,” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-mmanagement/art-20045434 (accessed May 19, 2023).